In the early 1980s the alternative comic scene in the USA was flourishing. Small independent publishing houses were springing up like mushrooms. William Van Horn saw a chance to realize a comic based on his own ideas.
In 1984 he conceived Nervous Rex and could sell the idea to Blackthorne Publishing. The little tyrannosaurus received his own comic book from the very start, totaling ten issues until 1987. These stories brought Bill much recognition and they are doubtlessly his most famous series. But his other works have enriched American comics, too.
Already in the Nervous Rex books Van Horn presented two comics featuring midget King Billy and a series of one-pagers revolving around The Pearl Of The Universe a.k.a Princess Vera and her adorers, Strong Arm Stanyan and Slewob The Huge. In 1986 Bill began to deliver stories for Blackthorne’s magazine Laffin’ Gas. Apart from additional Nervous Rex episodes, it included miscellaneous comics with non-recurring characters.
In 1987 and 1988 Blackthorne published Possibleman, a spoof on superheroes, and the funny-animal detective comic Tracker which featured a film noir style. Both series had their own comic book with two issues each. Tracker was originally planned to include four episodes. When Blackthorne ran into financial difficulties and began to delay the payment of royalties, however, Bill was forced to stop the series after the second part.
In 1988 Van Horn began to work for Fantagraphics Books’ magazine Critters for which he conceived a new comic series: Angst featuring the backyard philosophers Ratface and Louie.
Critters also presented 24 short stories about Ambrose the frog which in part had already been published in Magical Blend magazine in the early 1980s. Originally Bill had done these surreal comics as early as in the 1960s just for fun. For the publication in the 1980s he often redrew them to bring them more up to date stylistically. All in all, 85 comic pages featuring the frog exist.
Since 1990 Bill has been fully absorbed in his Disney work and does not draw any comics of his own anymore. The only exception are five Nervous Rex stories which were published in Disney Adventures in the 1990s.
84 non-Disney comics totaling 512 pages written and drawn by William Van Horn were published from 1985 through 1995. They are all listed in this section. Of course you can also have a look at the 17 covers Bill drew for these stories.